Sprinkles or Jimmies?

What do you ask for when you want your ice cream cone topped with little pieces of confectionery? The answer largely depends on where you’re from.

Origin Story

Nonpareils aka Hundreds and Thousands are the predecessor to Sprinkles (and Jimmies). These little round balls of sugar date back to the 18th century when they were used as pastry decorations.

The first Sprinkles were likely of Dutch origin. Called hagelslag, Erven H. de Jong invented the product in 1913. The little bits of sugar were instantly popular and within a couple of years, merchants were selling chocolate sprinkles in the U.S.

What to call it?

Photo: Brent Petersen

The original Dutch product hagelslag translates to chocolate sprinkles. And, throughout most of America, that’s what the treat is called.

However, in Boston, Philadelphia, and Rhode Island, they’re called Jimmies. On a side note, the name Jimmies only applies to the chocolate variety, colored ones are called Rainbow Sprinkles.

The name Jimmies is of unknown origin. In New England they say Dr. Farber named them after one of cancer patients, Jimmy. But, this is highly unlikely since Dr. Farber wasn’t yet practicing medicine when the term was coined.

A candy company in Pennsylvania also claims to have named the treat after one of its employees. This is also probably not true, either.

Other Names

Sprinkles and Jimmies aren’t the only names for these little bits of sweetness. In the UK, as well as Australia and New Zealand, they’re called Hundreds and Thousands. That name applies to both Sprinkles and Nonpareils.

And, in Egypt, they’re called faːrmasil.

But, whatever you call it, everyone can agree that an ice cream cone topped with Sprinkles/Jimmies/Hundreds and Thousands/Faːrmasil is a treat not to be missed.

About the Author

Brent Petersen is the Editor-in-Chief of Destination Eat Drink. He currently resides in Setubal, Portugal. Brent has written the novel “Truffle Hunt” (Eckhartz Press) and the short story collection “That Bird.” He’s also written dozens of foodie travel guides to cities around the world on Destination Eat Drink, including in-depth eating and drinking guides to Lisbon, PortoSintraMonsaraz, and Evora in Portugal. Brent’s podcast, also called Destination Eat Drink, is available on all major podcasting platforms and is distributed by the Radio Misfits Podcast Network.

Author: Brent